'On Call For Ireland' sees 40k applications amid coronavirus outbreak

40,000 applicants have signed up for the HSE's 'On Call For Ireland' initiative so far.

'On Call For Ireland' sees 40k applications amid coronavirus outbreak

Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke

40,000 applicants have signed up for the HSE's 'On Call For Ireland' initiative so far.

Any healthcare professional who is not already working in the public health service is being asked to help out in the fight against coronavirus here.

It is anticipated that many additional hospital and care beds will be needed to deal with this outbreak.

The HSE's chief executive, Paul Reid, says it is not yet clear how many of these applicants will be needed.

"We don't know at this stage the number of staff that we may need to call on and we're not sure for certain the kind of skills that we'll need to draw on," he said.

"It all obviously depends on the impact of the virus and, indeed, the impact on our own staff in terms of sickness and absenteeism that will occur. Bear with us, we may be back to you very quickly or it may take some time but we really appreciate the applications."

An award-winning travel writer and tv producer has volunteered to return to nursing to help combat the Covid-19 virus.

Deirdre Mullins, who has not nursed in 12 years, told Newstalk Breakfast that she feels “once a nurse, always a nurse.”

When I saw the offers of people coming home from abroad I felt compelled to give back. We’re all in this together, it’s important to do our bit.

Ms Mullins acknowledged that she had concerns about the impact returning to nursing could have on her home life and when she could see her elderly mother again.

Ken Egan, a retired GP from Mayo told Newstalk Breakfast that after 50 years in medicine it was “second nature to help out.” Dr Egan, who had retired in 2015 said he was still registered with the medical council and had limited insurance.

Most retired doctors will have to re-register, he said, and he hoped that the State would indemnify them with insurance. “I expect all my colleagues who are walking and talking will be willing to help.”

Dr Egan said he remembered treating TB patients in Merlin Park hospital that the 1956 All Ireland final was deferred because of a polio outbreak.

There was huge public support and “we should all muck in together”. There was great spirit in the community, he said.

His own family was concerned and had told him to mind himself, but he said he did not think he would be on the front line. “There will be plenty of work at all levels.”

Dr Egan encouraged people to “stay at home and stay away from everyone”.

You won’t get it on the wind. Let’s all smile, say hello and stay three feet away.

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